A wedding day is packed with incredible moments, and immortalising these in stunning images is the role of a good wedding photographer. There are many names for it; reportage, photojournalism, documentary photography, but the art of capturing the moment is something that takes practice, instinct, anticipation, and a great deal of experience. Special moments happen in an instant, but learning how to capture them takes far longer.
Here are my personal tips on wedding photography that truly captures the moment:
Capture the emotion
To really do justice to a special moment you need to capture the emotion and not just the people experiencing it. Everyone’s seen the same wedding shots time and time again; a father walking his bride down the aisle, the couple sharing a kiss, but by adding real emotion into these images, perhaps the expression on a face, or the gesture of a hand, you can create a photo that is totally unique. Wedding days are full of emotion. Love, laughter, joy and humour are to be found all around you, and experience will teach you how to capture them.
Seek out the unique
Each and every wedding has something unique about it and discovering this will help you to capture the essence of the day. Rather than focussing on the big staged moments such as the exchange of rings, first dance, or cake cutting, look for all the real moments in between. Shoot using your instinct and emotion rather than following a list of must-have shots. The best wedding photos are unscripted and un-posed, and will simply tell the story of the day as it unfolds.
Anticipate the moment
One of the most difficult skills for a wedding photographer to learn is sensing when something is about to happen, but with plenty of experience it is possible to master the art of anticipation. Over time you come to know what to look out for, to spot changes in guests’ facial expressions, to follow the evolution of conversations, and to be ready to capture the moment when it arrives. Photojournalism provides unique training for this type of photography as newsworthy moments are fleeting and photographing them is extremely competitive.
Blend into the background
A photographer’s body language and behaviour can make the difference between capturing an intimate candid moment, and creating an awkward situation. To take true reportage photos a photographer needs to be unobtrusive and to blend into the surroundings so that people don’t feel like they’re being watched. At the same time the photographer needs to observe keenly and be ready to take confident action when a special moment does occur.
Know your equipment
Being familiar with your camera and what it can do can make a huge difference in photojournalism style photography. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of your camera’s settings, and you have a few tried and tested set-ups that you can switch between easily. This will allow you to react quickly and confidently to any situation that develops around you, safe in the knowledge that you can depend on your equipment.
Get to know personalities
A wedding photographer has another role as a people watcher. As you gain experience in shooting weddings and other functions, you start to build up a thorough knowledge of personality types, and this can help greatly in anticipating situations and spontaneous moments. Before a wedding make sure you get to know the bride and groom really well. If you have an emotional connection with them this will add depth to your images and will allow you to share and capture their personal feelings.
Let your style shine through
The couple you are photographing have hired you because they like your style and your portfolio, so don’t be afraid to let your own personality influence the images. Shooting scenes or moments that appeal to you, for whatever reason, forms the base of your photography style and is what sets you apart from other photographers. Don’t try to force a style, but listen to your instinct. If you take images that you love you can be sure the couple will love them too.
You’ll know you’ve succeeded in capturing the moment when an image invokes the same feelings when it is viewed afterwards as it did on the day. The emotion in a wedding photo is what makes it unique and special, and an experienced wedding photographer will have the skill and expertise to anticipate that emotion in time to capture it fully.